But the Proteas captain certainly has the respect of his own dressing-room.
And just like the England Cricket talisman’s rallying cry to his teammates after the loss to Afghanistan, Bavuma has had to swiftly pull his motley crew together to get them to move on from their own shock defeat to the Netherlands for a wounded lion that awaits them at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium today (10.30am SA time start).
“We’ve had hard conversations as a team, spoken about the game from a skills department point of view, what exactly that we need to do to get better. Obviously looking at our performances and where things went bad for us from batting, bowling, even from a fielding point of view,” Bavuma said ahead of the crunch ICC World Cup clash against the English.
“But I think we also acknowledge the fact that in the last couple of months, we’ve played a lot of good cricket.
“So, I think it’s not to overlook that and allow one ‘blip’, I would say, in our game to override everything that we’ve done, and still keep the confidence in everything that we are doing.
“I think it’s easy to second-guess your processes.
“We’ve put that (the Dutch defeat) behind us. We’ve got the challenge of England, and we are preparing to get ourselves in the right mental state, physically as well, to play our best cricket there.”
But what did these “hard conversations” actually entail?
“I think we were put under pressure in the ‘death’ period. And how we’ve bowled within the ‘death’ hasn’t been at our best.
“And I guess that’s kind of been masked by how well we’ve bowled in the Powerplay, as well as the middle overs.
“It’s more the mental side of it in those periods – how we’re able to still keep that clarity and calmness in what we’re doing in those periods. Also, to understand that we’re going to get put under pressure in the death again, so how do we react differently within that period?”
England boast a potent batting unit that has been further lengthened with Stokes’ availability.
It is also highly unlikely that a top order that boasts the likes of Jonny Bairstow, Dawid Malan, Joe Root, Harry Brook, Liam Livingstone, Jos Buttler and Stokes et-al will fail in successive innings.
Bavuma acknowledged the threat, particularly with Stokes adding an ‘X-factor’ to England’s line-up.
But the skipper feels they have done sufficient preparation to keep the much-vaunted England batting line-up in check, especially after consulting their own secret weapon, Quinton de Kock, who has vast experience of the conditions at the Wankhede Stadium.
“His experience is immense. In our chat, we basically listened to him. He gave the chat as to what the conditions are like, what to expect,” Bavuma said.
“I mean, for at least a player like myself, who’s never played here, you feed off that type of information, that type of intel.”
Bavuma added that the Proteas have a dual mission today, particularly with the Springboks also facing England in a Rugby World Cup semi-final on Saturday evening in Paris.
“We play first, so I guess the responsibility’s on us to get things going the right way – and then obviously we’ll be supporting the guys after the game,” he said.
“They actually sent us a message today in our meeting … I guess, you know, trying to encourage us with our game.
“For us as players, we have that responsibility to put smiles on our countrymen’s faces, and make sure we go out and entertain and bring back the win.”
Squads For Mumbai
South Africa: Temba Bavuma (captain), Gerald Coetzee, Quinton de Kock, Reeza Hendricks, Marco Jansen, Heinrich Klaasen, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Rassie van der Dussen, Lizaad Williams.
England: Jos Buttler (captain), Moeen Ali, Gus Atkinson, Jonny Bairstow, Sam Curran, Liam Livingstone, Dawid Malan, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Harry Brook, Ben Stokes, Reece Topley, David Willey, Mark Wood, Chris Woakes.